By Doug Ross
U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky's legistion requiring the federal government to use U.S.-made steel for public projects makes sense.
Visclosky, vice chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus, recently re-introduced the American Steel First Act of 2013, which has been assigned to the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency. Caucus Chairman Tim Murphy, R-Pa., is a co-sponsor.
The bill would require the Transportation, Defense and Homeland Security departments to exclusively use American-made iron and steel in infrastructure projects. Exceptions include when American steel or iron would increase the project cost more than 25 percent or when domestic specialty steel or iron is unavailable in sufficient quantities
"We must reject unfairly-subsidized foreign steel and use American-made materials in taxpayer-financed projects," Visclosky, D-Ind., said.
During what has been aptly described as a jobless recovery, with the stock market soaring but the jobless rate still dismal, measures like this are needed to protect American jobs and, hopefully, put more Americans to work in lucrative manufacturing and related service jobs.
This obviously would benefit Northwest Indiana, which has close to 20,000 steel jobs. But it would also benefit the nation. It not only protects workers, but also national defense.
A recent report by retired Brig. Gen. John Adams looks at supply chain vulnerabilities and national security risks. "America's vulnerabiity today is frightening," Adams said.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing sponsored the report.
Adams' report offered many recommendations, including developing domestic resources of key natural resources the armed forces require. Adams singled out steel in that report, as he should. Steel is needed for the strong vehicles to move troops, weapons and materials at home and abroad, whether on the ground, in the water or in the sky.
Procurement policies that require or prefer American steel will help keep the industry strong and able to supply the defense industry, as well as other customers.
That, in turn, helps create jobs, which should be a top priority in the nation now.
Let's put Americans to work rather than sending our money overseas to create jobs in foreign countries that could be performed well by Americans.